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Picking the Right Running Shoe: 5 Suggestions for a Comfortable Run

Aug 03, 2012 06:39PM ● By Erin Frisch

Pick the Right Running Shoes

The most important thing for a runner is taking good care of his or her legs and feet. Preventing foot and leg pain and injury begins with the right pair of running shoes. No shoe is perfect for every runner because each runner is biomechanically different. Shopping for the right running shoes takes time and patience. Visit a local running store and let them analyze your gait. Their experts will then be able to recommend a shoe that will work best for you.

When it comes to biomechanics, there are three types of runners: over-pronators (flat-footed), neutral pronators, and supinators (high arches). Each type needs a different level of support and cushioning. Over-pronators should look for motion control or stability shoes, neutral runners should look for “neutral” shoes that can vary in cushioning based on preference, and supinators should look for flexible, cushioned shoes.

Here is a sampling of some of the top running shoes on the market now, but remember, it is important to “test drive” a shoe before buying because my top pick may not necessarily be the same as yours. Take a quick run around the store to test the fit, function, and comfort before you make your purchase.

Asics Gel-Nimbus 14 (and Asics Gel shoes in general)

This is a sleeker, lighter running shoe with abundant cushioning and stability; it breathes well and the ComfortDry insole helps keep feet dry and blister free. These shoes absorb shock, cushion feet, and are good for most types of neutral and supinating runners, but they’re not great for those with severe over-pronation. Their only downside is the price; they’ll run you $140 or so.

Nike LunarEclipse +2

The LunarEclipse has an insole with molded layers of memory foam and includes Nike's Fitsole technology. This provides a plastic-backed sock liner that reinforces your arch, giving the mid-foot a glove-like feel. This shoe fits high-arched people very well, providing the support and cushioning needed but still feeling lightweight. The “cons” include a narrow toe box that may limit this shoe to those with narrow feet, and the sizing runs a bit small, forcing people to size up at least a half size. Priced at $135, these are also on the expensive side.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12

This is Brooks’ best-selling running shoe and continues to receive appreciation from loyal customers from year to year. The Adrenaline GTS 12 remains a benchmark in support, this year shedding some weight compared to past models but still offering its legendary fit. It offers increased breathability, great cushioning, and a friction-resistance heel. It’s great for over-pronators, offering superb motion control. This shoe also offers more durability than past models. Downsides include the weight (though lighter than previous models, it’s still heavy for a running shoe) and the mesh upper, which won’t keep your feet warm in winter months. But the price is right for these shoes at $110.

New Balance 880

This shoe has just the right amount of cushioning. It is firm enough to protect your feet and legs on longer runs, yet still soft enough to provide comfort. This is due to the Acteva Lite insole and Stability Web that New Balance has incorporated into the shoe. The changes to the outsole keep the foot in contact with the ground longer than previous versions, which combined with the insole provide a balanced and durable ride for neutral runners. The 880 delivers all this at the reasonable price of $100.

New Balance Minimus Zero Road

The NB Minimus Zero is a great road shoe designed for maximum comfort, and it provides a lightweight ride that mimics running barefoot. The shoe is fantastic for runners familiar with zero-drop design and minimal cushioning, but it’s also great for someone looking to get into minimalist running with the security of a fully formed, traditionally designed shoe. The outsole is flexible yet durable, and the upper is breathable and comfortable and fits like a sock. Speaking of which, this shoe can be worn without socks if you choose. The ankle collar is a little high and might cause some people discomfort, but at $110 it’s worth trying these shoes on. One caveat: if you do not have good form or have excessive pronation, these shoes will be hard on your feet and legs.

Check out Runners World’s shoeadvisor for more picks particular to your running style!

What's your favorite shoe?

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